This spring lamb stew, flavored with garlic, anchovies, vinegar, and rosemary, is an example of Southern Italy’s ingenious way of blending together strong flavors for a subtle, mellow result. I like adding fresh fava beans, but you can use spring peas, which are a lot less work, or you can leave out the vegetables altogether and send the stew to the table with a generous scattering of flat-leaf parsley leaves stirred in at the last minute.Fava beans grow in thick, fuzzy pods. After you shell them, you’ve got individual beans encased in a slightly tough skin that needs to be removed. To do this, drop the shelled beans into a pot of boiling water, blanch them for about 30 seconds, and then drain them and run cold water over them. The skins should now slip off easily.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Flour for dredging the lamb (I use Wondra, which is finely ground and never gets gummy)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, cut into small dice
1 celery stalk, cut into small dice, plus a handful of celery leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup meat or chicken broth
1 cup fresh peas or peeled fava beans (see above)
3 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons high-quality vinegar (a red-wine or sherry-wine vinegar is best)
A few large sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
In a large casserole fitted with a lid, heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium flame. Dry the lamb chunks, coat them lightly with flour, and sprinkle them with the sugar (which will help the meat brown). When the pan is hot, add the lamb and brown it well all over. Season with salt and black pepper and add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté a few minutes longer to soften the vegetables, being careful not to let the garlic get too dark (lower the heat if you sense that this might happen). Add the rosemary, bay leaf, and white wine, and let the wine bubble until it reduces by about half. Add the broth, and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the casserole, and simmer until the lamb is tender, about 2 hours. Skim the fat from the surface, add the peas or fava beans, and simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes longer, until the vegetables are tender, but not so long that they start to lose their bright green color.
Mash the anchovies to a paste in a mortar. Add the vinegar to the mortar and stir it to blend. Pour the anchovy-and-vinegar mixture into the casserole and stir to blend. Taste for seasoning, adding a few extra grindings of black pepper and a drizzle of fresh olive oil. Add the chopped parsley. Serve with Sautéed Artichokes with Pancetta and New Potatoes, or with plain rice.